India offers to help African nations deal with Omicron

India offers to help African nations deal with Omicron, ready to send vaccines

The government already cleared supply of Covaxin developed and manufactured by Bharat Biotech to Botswana

Representative image. Credit: Reuters photo

India has offered to expeditiously send Covid-19 vaccines to the countries in Africa to help contain the new Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The government already cleared supply of Covaxin developed and manufactured by Bharat Biotech International Limited based in Hyderabad to Botswana, one of the countries where the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 was detected early. The government also cleared all orders placed so far by the COVAX for supplies of Covishield Covid-19 vaccines, including to other countries in Africa, like Malawi, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Guinea and Lesotho, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated in New Delhi.

The COVAX is an initiative, co-led by GAVI – the Vaccine Alliance, CEPI and launched by the World Health Organization for equitable distribution of the vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“Any new requirement projected either bilaterally or through COVAX will be considered expeditiously,” Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of the MEA, said.

Read | Covid-19 vaccine makers start work on Omicron-tailored shots

New Delhi so far supplied more than 25 million doses of Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines to 41 countries in Africa, including nearly one million doses as grant to 16 countries and more than 16 million doses under the COVAX facility to 33 countries. It also stands ready to supply essential life-saving drugs, test kits, gloves, PPE kits and medical equipment such as ventilators, as may be required, said Bagchi, adding: “Indian institutions would favourably consider cooperation in genomic surveillance and virus characterization related research work with their African counterparts.”

India is considered a world leader in production of vaccines and, before the Covid-19 swept the world, its companies manufactured over 50 per cent of the jabs required for immunisations programmes against several diseases around the world.

Read | Are current RT-PCR tests enough to detect Omicron variant?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government sent out 107.15 lakh doses of the Made-in-India vaccines to foreign nations as grant till April 22 this year, in addition to the 357.92 lakh doses exported commercially and 198.628 lakh doses contributed to the COVAX, an initiative launched by the WHO for equitable distribution of the antidote against the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

New Delhi paused its “Vaccine Maitri” initiative after the shortage of the jabs came to the fore during the brutal second Covid-19 wave in India and slowed down the inoculation programme in the country itself. It, however, restarted sending out vaccines to other countries early this month.

Watch latest videos by DH here: